Chapter 25

Image result for candles bubble bath

Christian wasn’t kidding when he said he didn’t want me to leave the next day. I wake up the next morning, and when I head out to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, I find both Prescott and Ryan there waiting for me.

“I’ll be ready to leave in 20 minutes, Prescott,” I say disinterestedly as I take the mug Gail offers me, but she shakes her head.

“I’m sorry, Miss Steele. Mr. Grey has instructed Ryan and I to keep in you in the apartment today.” She says and I gape back at her.

“So what, you’re going to hold me prisoner here?” I ask and Ryan shakes his head, trying to be diplomatic.

“It’s just for today, ma’am. Mr. Grey simply wants to keep you out of the media spotlight until he’s back in Seattle.”

I look back at Gail, expecting to see a look of shock on her face similar to my own, but she simply diverts her eyes and quietly exits the kitchen. I glance between Prescott and Ryan, waiting for one of them to at least acknowledge how ridiculous this is, but they both stare back at me, completely stoic.

“Fine,” I snap, and I pick up a croissant off the counter and march angrily for the stairs to the office Christian had put together for me. The second the door closes behind me I pull out my phone, find Christian’s name in my recent calls and jab my finger against the screen to call him.

“You have reached the voicemail box of”

“Arghhhh!” I cry with frustration. I hang up the phone and collapse into my chair, resting my head in my folded arms and repeating to myself that he’s going to be home tonight and all of this will be solved once we can finally just have a fucking conversation.

It’s difficult to get all of my work done from Escala. I had three meetings today which had to be rescheduled for Friday because we couldn’t get Lifesize to work on my laptop and Barney couldn’t get down here in time to fix what was wrong. I try to make the best of feeling disconnected from the office by taking the time to focus on some new manuscripts, and I get a good amount accomplished until I’m distracted by the ping of my email.

From: Christian Grey

Subject: Delayed

Date: June 9th 2010 03:15 PM

To: Anastasia Steele

Anastasia,

One of my meetings has been rescheduled for Thursday morning. I won’t be home until tomorrow evening.

Christian Grey

CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings INC

What? No! I glance at my phone, itching to call him again, but I’ve had it proved to me over the last twenty four hours that that’s pointless, so I reply to the email instead, knowing that at least he’ll read it.

From: Anastasia Steele

Subject: Christian please…

Date: June 9th 2010 03:18 PM

To: Christian Grey

Please call me. We need to talk, I’m going crazy over here. I’m sorry that I went out with Kate on Monday night and I’m sorry that I even went to that stupid sex shop. I’m not trying to embarrass you, I really thought I was being careful. Please, please call me.

And I miss you. I’m sorry that I’m not going to get to see you tonight.

Anastasia Steele

Implementation Director, Grey Enterprises Holdings INC

I wait, staring impatiently back at my email, but several minutes pass and nothing comes through. I drum my fingers on the keys of my laptop, wondering what to do from here when I remember what Kate suggested yesterday.

Did you call Ros or Taylor?

Ros! I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to think of this. Taylor is a lost cause because he’s not going to do anything Christian doesn’t want him to, but he doesn’t have that kind of influence on Ros. She’ll not only talk to me, but she’d probably give him the phone if I asked her to. He may hang up on me, but it’s better than listening to his voicemail ten times a day.

I quickly dial her number and feel a wave of relief when she picks up on the third ring.

“Hey, Ana. What’s up?”

“Just working… How’s it going over there?”

“Great. Christian has, actually, been on the ball all week. I haven’t seen him focused like this since… probably Harvard. I think we may have sealed three separate deals since we’ve been here.”

“Really?” I ask, surprised.

“Yeah, it’s awesome. How’s SIP?”

“Fine. Did you see the email I sent about the eReader?”

“Yeah, I did. I think that’s a great idea. Christian seemed to be excited about it too. I think he’s really proud of you, Ana. I can tell it makes him really happy to see you doing so well.”

I feel my heart sink. So, he’s been perfectly fine around her all week? Happy even? I don’t even know what to make of that.

“Hey, I’m just about to get on my flight. Can I call you when I get to Seattle tonight? Or maybe we can do lunch tomorrow?”

“Wait… You’re coming home? I thought you had to stay an extra day?”

“No, we’re all set. Christian had something personal to take care of so he’s staying an extra day but we wrapped up with our last client this morning.”

“Oh…” I say, because that’s all I can say. “Then, uh, yeah… Let’s schedule a lunch.”

“Sounds great. See you soon, Ana,” Ros says, and she hangs up the phone. I stare down at it blankly. If their meetings are done, then what got rescheduled? I suspect what the answer to that is and the idea brings tears to my eyes. There is no meeting being rescheduled. He’s just this mad at me. He hasn’t even been able to talk to me on the phone, did I really expect him to just come home and everything would be fine?

No, I didn’t think everything would be fine, but I also didn’t think he’d extend his trip because he wasn’t ready to see me yet.

I spend the entire morning the next day just waiting for an email from Christian telling me that he’s not coming home again, but it doesn’t come. I want to ask him to at least text me and let me know when he’s leaving, but I’ve given up trying to contact him, it hurts too much at this point to have him reject me over and over again. So instead, I try and distract myself once I’m done working by having Kate ask Elliot over to watch a baseball game. He agrees, but once he gets to Escala, no one seems overly interested in the Mariners.

Christian texts Elliot, not me, when he’s finally aboard his flight to leave New York late that afternoon. It’s a five and a half hour direct flight from New York to Seattle and since the game isn’t enough to distract me, I do my best to kill time by tidying the already immaculate apartment and cooking dinner for Kate and Elliot.

They sit on the couch, staring at, but not really watching the game, while I pace nervously back and forth in front of the scenic windows, watching the sun sink lower in the sky. I’m not sure what is going to happen when Christian gets home, but in preparation, I’ve asked Gail to take the night off. Kate and Elliot are going to leave at about 10 since Christian should be walking in somewhere around 10:30, and as I count the minutes slowly ticking away, I grow more and more worried about what’s coming home to me.

I hope we fight. Fighting would be good, at least it would be talking. I’m terrified that he’s going to come home and nothing will change. I can’t handle him shutting me out like this…

I glance over at the TV, hoping the droning sounds of the announcers will do something to catch my attention, even just for a second, but as I watch one of the players for the Texas Rangers catch a fly ball that puts the batter up for the Mariner’s out, my attention is drawn by the ping of the elevator and I feel a sudden rush of adrenaline.

My head whirls around to the foyer, my breath caught in my chest, but just as quickly as my hopes had peaked, they’re deflated again when I see Luke walking towards me.

“Ana,” He says, and my face heats with dread when I hear the uneasy timber of his voice. He looks… nervous.

“What?” I ask, unsure if I really want to know what he has to say, but before he answers, he looks at Kate and Elliot on the couch.

“Can I talk to you in private for a minute?”

“Whatever you have to say to her, you can say in front of me,” Kate says, but he shakes his head.

“Actually… I’d prefer not to tell you what I have to tell you in front of Elliot.” Luke says, and Elliot’s brow furrows.

“Me?” He asks, confused. “What? Is it about Christian?” Luke’s jaw tenses and Elliot gets up off the couch, his body rigid as he glares at Luke.

“What do you have to say?” Elliot asks sharply, but Luke just turns to look at me.

“Please, Ana.?”

I look over at Elliot and his fingers curl together into a fist as he stares angrily at Luke. “Just tell me.” I say quietly.

“Ana…”

“Just tell me,” I say again and he takes a deep breath.

“I was looking into some things. That night at the club, those photos of you and I… I was careful, Ana. I was aware of everything going on around us. There were no paparazzi at the club that night.”

“So someone got a picture of me on their phone. We already knew that, it happened to Kate and I the other day.”

“Exactly, that’s what made me want to look into it. I was worried you had a stalker or, at the very least, maybe an undercover photographer was following you around. I decided to see if I could find someone who had a connection to you, and so I started with the club. I had Welch pull the transaction records from the bar that night and sure enough, one of the names that came up was… Elena Lincoln.”

“Elena?”

“Could you think of someone who would have more reason to leak to the press that you’re cheating on Christian?”

“Oh my god, Ana…” Kate says, her eyes widening. “Elena was there, at that sex shop we went to.”

“Sex shop?” Elliot asks, but Kate shakes her head and brushes him off.

“So, it’s her?” I ask. “She’s been taking pictures of me and sending them into TMZ?”

“That was my thought. So I went onto the GEH server and started going through her emails, looking to see if she’s sent the pictures from her work account…”

“And?” I ask.

“She hadn’t…” He says hesitantly but I know this can’t be it, he wouldn’t come down here to talk to me unless he had some kind of proof.

“So, maybe from a personal email or a fake account?”

“Uh… I don’t know. I haven’t gotten that far yet,” He replies and I feel my face fall with disappointment.

“So what are you doing here?” I ask.

“And what does this have to do with Christian?” Elliot chimes in. Luke looks over to Elliot, swallows and then turns to face me again.

“When I was in Elena’s email account, I found something.”

My body freezes. “What?”

“An itinerary. A flight for Wednesday night that was booked earlier in the afternoon. A flight from Seattle to New York. The name on the credit card confirmation was Christian Grey.”

“What?” I ask, my voice only a breath, and, slowly, Luke reaches into his jacket and pulls out his cell phone. He opens the email app and hands it to me.

From: United Airlines

Subject: eTicket Itinerary and Receipt for Confirmation JV9KM4

Date: June 9th 2010  01:07 PM

To: Elena Lincoln

Issue Date: June 09, 2010

Traveler: eTicket Number: Arrival City and Time:

Elena A. Lincoln       0162458734646        New York, NY (JFK)  11:15 PM EST

FARE INFORMATION Form of Payment

Fare breakdown:         VISA

Airfare:  $715.00 XXXXXXXXXXXX9723

US Transportation Tax:  $35.91 EXP: 02/12     CVV: 089

US Flight Segment Tax: $21.00 Name: Christian T. Grey

September 11th Security Tax: $11.19

U.S. Passenger Facility: $9.00

Per Person Total: $792.10 USD

eTicket Total: $792.10 USD

My hands are shaking as I read the email for the third time. This is from yesterday, her flight was yesterday. He booked this flight before he emailed me to tell me that he was staying behind in New York an extra day. This is why he stayed… the personal thing Ros said he had to take care of while she flew home. Anger begins to surge through the shock and I press my lips tightly together as I click the button to forward the confirmation to my email.

“Ana?” Elliot asks, hesitantly, from across the room and I inhale sharply as I hand Luke back his phone.

“Everyone out,” I say, impressed that I’m able to keep my voice even.

“Ana, there has to be a reason…” Elliot implores me, but I shake my head and turn an angry glare on him.

“You think I care what his reason is?” I hiss through my teeth. Elliot’s mouth opens to respond but no words come out.

“Ana, he’s going to be here in two hours…” Kate says, looking up at the ornate clock hung on the wall across from her. “Why don’t you grab some clothes and you can come and stay with me at my parents tonight? We can figure out what to do about this tomorrow when you’ve had a chance to calm down and think…”

“No, she can’t go,” Elliot argues. “She has to be here. If he’s calling Elena, she, of all people, has to be here. If this is what we think it is, it means he’s slipping again and if she’s gone when he gets home…”

“It’s not always about Christian, Elliot,” Kate snaps. “I’m not going to let him hurt her again. Not like this.”

“Ana knew what we were up against, she knew that this was a possibility when she signed up. She chose to stay, she needs to stay.” Elliot replies, raising his voice now.

“Ana,” Luke says calmly. “What do you want to do?”

I take a deep calming breath. “I want you all to leave.”

They stare at me, frozen in place but each for different reasons. I can almost hear the arguments swirling around in Kate’s head and I can feel the tension radiating off of Elliot, even from all the way across the room. Part of me wonders if he would try and stop me if I wanted to go… but it doesn’t matter. I’m not going to leave. I told Christian I was here to stay and when I said that, I meant it. If I’m going to leave now, I’m not going to sneak out while he’s on a flight back to Seattle. I at least owe him the chance to explain. He hasn’t given me that chance all week, and I know how that feels. He’s wrong about Luke… Maybe, just maybe, there could possibly be an explanation for this email.

But I don’t want any of these three here when Christian gets home. Any worry I had before that he was going to be silent and shut me out is now out the window. There is going to be a fight. A loud fight.

“I’m serious,” I say again, “I want you all gone. Now.”

“You’re not going to leave?” Elliot checks.

“No, Elliot. I’m not leaving. I’m going to talk to him. Now go.”

“Come on, Kate,” He says and he reaches out his hand for her but Kate narrows her eyes at me.

“You’re sure? You don’t have to stay because Elliot wants you to, Ana. You don’t owe Christian anything.”

“Yes I do,” I tell her. “I love him, Kate, and until I hear what happened from him, I owe him the benefit of the doubt. I owe him a little faith that he wouldn’t do something like this to me again.”

“If you need anything,” Luke says urgently. “You call me and I will come and get you immediately.”

“Thanks, Luke,” I tell him. “Now, go.”

He nods and then turns around, Elliot following after him, and then after another long second of hesitation, Kate leaves too. I listen to the elevator doors slide closed behind them and the second I know I’m alone, my stone facade breaks and horrible, retching sobs break through my lips. I hurry back to our bedroom and collapse on the bed as tears roll down my cheeks. My fingers tangle into the sheets that only a few days ago, Christian had made love to me in.

I have to believe that he wouldn’t betray me again. I have to believe that there is some perfectly logical explanation for what happened because, abusive past and traumatic bonding aside, I would not get over this betrayal.

I roll onto my back, trying to regain control of my breathing and as I do, I feel my phone vibrate in my back pocket. I know it’s still too early for Christian to have landed, and so I assume it’s Kate and that she’s changed her mind and is coming back up here to try and take me back to Mercer Island with her. I don’t want her to come back up here and see me like this so I pull my phone out to try and reassure her, but when I look down at the screen, it isn’t Kate calling. It’s an unknown number. An unknown 617 number…

Fuck! Now?

“Hello?” I answer, trying to keep my voice steady and hide my tears.

“Good evening, is this Anastasia Steele?” a male voice responds.

“Yes,” I croak. I clear my throat and then try again. “Yes, this is she.”

“Miss Steele, this is James Harris, the Dean of Students from Harvard University.”

“Hello, Mr. Harris.”

“I’m calling to inform you that the investigation the University was conducting against you in regards to the merit of your internship has been suspended indefinitely.”

I have to take a moment to catch my breath as this unexpected news actually leaves me winded. Suspended indefinitely? What does that mean?

“Wh-what?” I ask, making sure I heard him correctly.

“Mr. Grey had a meeting with the president of the University this afternoon to discuss the details of your internship and the work that you’ve done this summer for Grey Enterprises Holdings. Dr. Giplin-Faust was extremely impressed by the glowing commendation Mr. Grey gave about you, your professionalism, and the things you’ve accomplished thus far over the summer, and as a result, the University has decided to forgo its investigation. You are free to return for the start of term on September 2nd.”

I’m shocked, actually shocked… Christian had a meeting with the president of Harvard University? I’m pretty sure you usually have to be like… a senator, or a supreme court justice, or something equally as important to get that. And as my head begins to spin thinking of what he probably had to do, or more likely spend, to get that meeting, I realize… holy shit, this is the meeting that was rescheduled. This is why he had to stay an extra day. He wasn’t meeting Elena, he was meeting the president of Harvard University. He’s not even in New York, he’s in Cambridge.

“Miss Steele?” Mr. Harris asks after I’ve been silent for an inappropriate amount of time and I shake my head slightly to reorient myself.

“I’m sorry… um, thank you, Mr. Harris. I appreciate you taking the time to call and let me know the outcome of the investigation.”

“It’s my pleasure, Miss Steele. Enjoy the rest of your summer.”

“You as well. Goodbye, Mr. Harris.”

I hang up the phone and stare blankly at the wall in front of me. There are so many emotions weaving their way through me it’s hard to keep track of them all. Relief to know for sure that Christian didn’t spend the afternoon in bed with some brown haired submissive girl, or worse, Elena herself, joy that my fears of losing Harvard are now behind me, and overwhelming satisfaction that I made the right decision tonight. I didn’t run and Christian proved that he deserved my faith in him. I still want know why he sent Elena out to New York, but I know for sure now that it wasn’t to meet him.

I look down at my phone. I still have about an hour before Christian’s flight lands… and I know exactly how I’m going to spend that time…

My phone buzzes a little over an hour later with a text message from Luke telling me that Taylor has gotten ahold of him and he and Christian are both back in Seattle. A smile creeps across my lips as I light the last of the candles I’ve artfully arranged around the bathroom and then pull the robe off my shoulders and step into the, deep, luxurious bubble bath.

I sit there for only a few minutes, the warm water lapping gently against my collar bones every time I move my body, before I hear Christian’s muffled voice ring through the apartment from the foyer.

“Anastasia!” He calls, the concern in his voice overtly apparent even through the bedroom and long hall that lay between us. I can hear the low sounds of him tearing through the apartment looking for me, and the crash of the door when he bursts into the bedroom. “Ana!” He calls again and a few seconds later, the bathroom door swings open. The second he sees me sitting in the tub, an overwhelming look of relief crosses his face, but once it hits him that I haven’t left… he’s immediately guarded again.

“Hi,” I say quietly.

“Hi,” He replies.

“Welcome home.”

He stands there for a moment, looking at me skeptically, like he’s waiting for some kind of catch, but after a long moment moment of silence between us, he reaches up for his tie and begins to tug on the knot. I watch him carefully as he slowly undresses in front of me and then crosses the tile floor to step into the bath with me. Once he’s settled into the tub, he reaches out and to pull me into him, but I lift my foot and press it into his shoulder to keep him at bay.

“Oh no, we’re not there yet,” I say and his face falls. “You ignored my phone calls for two days, Christian. Do you know what it’s been like for me here?”

“Yes,” He says flatly. “I know exactly what it was like. I ignored you for two days, you ignored me for two years.”

I frown. “This is different and you know it. You were shutting me out over a misunderstanding, that I know was cleared up probably minutes after that TMZ article came out. That’s not what happened before so don’t compare the two.”

He sighs and then leans back, picking up one of the champagne glasses resting on the edge of the tub and draining it before he speaks again. “Anastasia, I was mad at you. I was afraid of what I would say to you out of anger. I didn’t want to say something stupid and hurtful to you that I couldn’t take back and then come home to and find out you’d left. So I just… said nothing. Well, I tried.” He looks away from me for a moment, chagrin crossing his face as he sets the champagne flute back on the edge of the tub. “I shouldn’t have said that you embarrassed me. It wasn’t entirely accurate. You hurt me. I was already angry because you hadn’t answered any of my calls or emails and then I found out you were at a club. I know what happens to your libido when you drink and when I saw those pictures of you and Sawyer, when I thought, even for just those few minutes, I thought my worst fears were confirmed. It nearly killed me, Anastasia.”

“Those pictures were nothing, Christian. I was upset, and Luke hugged me. He isn’t kissing me in that picture, he’s leaning into to speak in my ear because the music was loud. It was a stupid photograph taken from a bad angle to make it look like something was happening that wasn’t. I would never do something like that to you, Christian. You’re the only one I want.”

“I’m sorry,” He says. “I won’t doubt you again.”

“You can’t shut me out when you get mad. I know you’re afraid that I’m going to run, but I’ve promised you that I won’t. If I can’t run, then you can’t either. Deal?”

“Deal.”

I look at him very seriously and hold my hand out for him to shake and seal our bargain. He smiles, reaches out for my hand and once his fingers wrap around mine, he yanks on me and pulls me into him, and his lips come crashing down on mine. I wrap myself around him, holding my body tight against his, and feeling a welcome sense of relief and content at finally having him here with me and getting to touch him again. I’ve really missed him.

“Oh, Ana…” He moans against my lips. “You have no idea how scared I was when I talked to Elliot at the airport. I thought I’d come back here and you’d be gone.”

“Christian, I told you…” I whisper back. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“But I… Elliot told me that Sawyer had found an email confirmation for the flight I booked for Elena this week and showed it to you. He said you were upset… Ana, I didn’t see her. I wasn’t flying her out to see me, it was business related, I swear. I wasn’t even in New York when she got there…”

“I know,” I tell him and he raises an eyebrow at me.

“You do?”

“Harvard called me about an hour ago. I know you met with the president of the University to discuss the allegations and the investigation against me. I know you went and fought for me.”

“Oh,” He replies, and I lean back so that I can look him in they eyes properly.

“Why didn’t you tell me that was the meeting that had been rescheduled?”

“Well… usually you get so upset when you think I’m interfering with your education. I’d heard through some sources of mine that the interview we did last week didn’t have the effect on the investigation that we’d hoped and so I went to make a case for you. I didn’t know if that would make you angry so I didn’t tell you about it. I didn’t want to fight with you about it. Not when I knew what I was going to come home to.”

“What do you mean, come home to?”

“Taylor talked to Sawyer, and Sawyer told him that you’d run into Leila. He told me what she said to you…”

“He did?”

“Did you believe her?” Christian asks, and I can hear the hint of anger and hurt behind the tightness in his voice.

“No. I mean… it kind of freaked me out a little but Kate and Luke, they talked me down. Helped me think straight. I was fine until I talked to Elena…”

“You talked to Elena?” He interrupts me.

“Oh, uh… yeah. Kate and I ran into her at that sex shop…”

“Oh, yes.” He says, his voice hardening again. “The sex shop.”

“Christian…” I sigh, exasperatedly, “I’m sorry about that too, okay? I thought we were careful, I’ve been avoiding the paparazzi all week but somehow they still manage to get photos.” I frown as I remember what Luke said to me before he told me about the email he found in Elena’s inbox. Is she really the one who has been leaking photos of me to the press to try and drive a wedge between Christian and I? I hope that’s what Luke is doing right now…

“Why were you even there?” Christian asks, and it takes me a second to backtrack through the conversation and remember what he’s talking about.

“Oh, uh… well, I was kind of thinking that maybe I would, uh, surprise you. I really did enjoy last weekend in Montesano and I thought if we had some um… props…” My cheeks flush as I look up to make eye contact with Christian, and a smile creeps across his lips.

“Props?” He asks, amused, and I nod. “Well, as admirable as the thought behind the gesture was, I’d have preferred it if you had done your shopping online.”

“Yeah, I just… I don’t know, I’m kind of new with all of this stuff. I haven’t seen most of it before. I wanted to actually see it before I bought it.”

“Well then, maybe it’s something we can do together,” He suggests. “I think I might be a better resource for you than Kate given my experience.”

My face falls at his words and I can see the flash of regret in his eyes. “I don’t mean… I just… There hasn’t been anyone else, Anastasia, I swear to you.”

“So Leila is lying then?” I clarify. “And Isaac… Elena wasn’t bringing girls to you in your office at GEH?”

“Well… No,” He says, frowning. “There were girls… but that doesn’t mean that I fucked them, Ana. Elena was trying to help me move on from you, but I didn’t want to. She thought she could introduce me to some submissive that would catch my attention but it didn’t work. I wasn’t interested in even one of the girls she brought in. I’ve told you before, Ana. It’s only you, it’s only ever been you.”

“I’m sorry,” I whisper when I pull away. “I’m sorry I shouldn’t have let Leila get into my head like that. I shouldn’t let anyone make me doubt you. You deserve my trust, Christian. You have it.”

“I’m sorry too,” He says. “If I hadn’t shut you out while I was away, I could have told you this and… And this week wouldn’t have been so shitty.”

The remainder of his absence brings the one question I’m burning to ask to the forefront of my mind. “Why did you fly Elena out to New York?”

“My manufacturing division needs to expand to meet the demands of Grey Construction and the agriculture department. I’m about to start the process for a new acquisition…”

“Okay, so what does that have to do with Elena?”

“I’m buying Lincoln Timber. After his divorce, Linc had his company re-headquartered in New York. It’s one of the prospects I was looking into this week, and it looks good but I need to move quickly.”

My mouth pops open. “You mean, you’re buying her ex-husband’s company?”

“Yes. They’ve run into some financial difficulty because they lack the internal infrastructure to support the demands of the changing marketplace and they’re ripe for a takeover. Elena still has some contacts on the board of directors at Lincoln Timber and she’s going to help smooth over this transition.”

“I just… why does it have to be his company? There have to be other timber companies you could buy.”

“It’s the best option,” He says with a shrug.

“Did she tell you that?”

“No, Anastasia. I don’t seek out Elena Lincoln for advice. I’m perfectly capable of doing a competitive analysis on my own. Elena is an asset in this instance but she has nothing to do with my decision making. Once the purchase is complete, she’ll go back to the salons, and she won’t have anything to do with Lincoln Timber.”

I frown and he sighs. “It’s just business, Ana. His company is going to fold if I don’t intervene. I’m saving people’s jobs, including the people who work for GEH. Companies have to evolve to survive. This is what I do and sometimes it seems harsh, but it isn’t personal. If he was better at running his company, I wouldn’t be able to take it from him.”

“I guess I don’t know enough about it to argue with you so…” I say, my voice trailing off. His hands reach up and cup my cheeks so that he can turn my head and force me to look at him.

“I know you’re worried that this is her way of attaching herself to me, but it isn’t. It’s a coincidence that her ex husband happens to own the company I’m buying. I promise you, I’m not spending time with her, I’m not running to her. I don’t need her, Ana. I only need you.”

“Okay,” I nod and he leans up to kiss me.

“It’s late. Do you want to go to bed?”

“Yes,” I say quietly, and he shifts me off of him so he can pull the plug on the drain, and then he steps out of the tub and takes two towels out of the cupboard. Once he’s wrapped one securely around his waist, he holds one open for me and I stand so he can envelop me with it. I reach my face up for his once more, finding his lips with mine as he scoops me up into his arms and carries me off for the bed that, after this horrible week, is miraculously still ours.

Next Chapter

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